What Could Possibly Explain Why Your Dog Licks Your Ears?

A dog licks a cat's ear.

Some dogs are quirkier than others, but the fact remains: all dogs are a little…weird. Of course, this is part of why people love them so much. They keep us guessing and thoroughly entertained day in and day out. 

While many of their behaviors can be off-putting, some are just perplexing. If your dog licks your ears (or somebody else’s ears), and you can’t quite figure out why they do it, we have some ideas for you.

Social Creatures

Dogs answer to some fairly strong canine behaviors that have been passed down through generations. By nature, dogs are highly social pack animals, and many of the things they do are related to the unique ways that dogs communicate and socialize.

If your dog licks your ears, they may be signalling a high level of comfort. Mutual grooming is common among pack members, and you may be perceived as just one of the pack. Licking your ears may also be a sign of love, care and respect. In other words, when your dog licks your ears, they’re complimenting you!

Is It Gross?

Simply allowing your dog to lick your ears whenever they feel like it may not be in anyone’s best interest. 

Sure, it might be okay if they sneak a slurp in there on the way to hugging you. But some dogs that repeatedly go for the ears may actually be attracted to the smell and taste of earwax. Additionally, any salt they pick up from the surrounding skin may increase their satisfaction.

Redirect That Tongue

Dogs accept positive reinforcement training techniques. This means that when they are rewarded for good behavior they are more likely to repeat it. By not reacting to unwanted or “bad” behaviors, dogs learn not to repeat them. 

When your dog licks your ears, try to stay as neutral as possible. Simply get up and redirect their attention to something else. Give them an opportunity to replace the licking with something positive that earns them a reward. Over time (and only with consistency and patience), your dog will lick ears less often.

Other Explanations

Since dogs explore and try to make sense of their environment with their tongue (after their nose and ears), it’s not a stretch to think that they lick ears to expand their knowledge of the world. 

A sudden interest in another animal’s ears may require further attention. Discharge and odor caused by an infection can be attractive, and may even lead to obsessive licking/cleaning of the ear(s). Be sure that excessive or repetitive licking isn’t causing a build up of saliva or moisture in the ear canal. This can lead to other issues. Again, try to redirect the licking to another, more rewarding activity.

When a Dog Licks Your Ears

The bottom line is that this is mostly a normal canine behavior. That being said, however, if the behavior goes over the line or becomes obsessive, it may be time to intervene.

As with anything else related to your dog’s health and happiness, Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates are always available to help